Afghan interpreters get to grips with new lives as Kiwis

By Kieran Campbell

Hussain Sayed with daughters Zakia, 4, (left) and Madina, 5, were welcomed to New Zealand at Government House yesterday. Photo / Chris Gorman
Hussain Sayed with daughters Zakia, 4, (left) and Madina, 5, were welcomed to New Zealand at Government House yesterday. Photo / Chris Gorman

Hussain Sayed's daughters were a long way from home as they ran with a dozen other youngsters across the vast lawns of Government House in Auckland yesterday.

Two months ago his young girls were virtual prisoners in their village in Afghanistan where Mr Sayed, an interpreter who helped the New Zealand Defence Force, feared he was a constant target.

Today they are citizens of New Zealand and their official settlement into the country was completed with a welcome by the Governor-General, Lieutenant General Sir Jerry Mateparae.

Mr Sayed, who arrived seven weeks ago with 30 other Afghan interpreters and their families offered resettlement in New Zealand for their services to the Defence Force, already considers himself a countryman.

He's tried L&P, he's been acquainted with kumara fries, and the next challenge on his list is learning to swim.

"But sometimes when you go to the swimming pool it can be embarrassing because small children can swim but we cannot swim," he said.

Most importantly it is the bond he made with Kiwi troops and the future he sees for his family in New Zealand that makes him most passionate about the country.

At the ceremony at Government House yesterday, Mr Sayed presented Sir Jerry with an Afghanistan flag inscribed with the names of Kiwi troops who died in Bamiyan.

As their children played on the lawn, the newly arrived Afghans mingled and talked about moving into their new homes in Palmerston North and Hamilton.

Mr Sayed said all were excited about their new lives. He had expected to face difficulties adapting to New Zealand culture but was now confident his family would make a smooth transition. APNZ

- APNZ

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